In today’s world, parents like us are somehow backing away from the modern, more liberal type of parenting and adapting the old, conventional style when it comes to discipline and house rules. Truly, it is difficult not to notice the messages conveyed on the television and social media – the children of today are just out of control. But a psychologist once asked me, “How are the kids of today so different from the way we were? And did we make them who they are now?”
With the newly structure curriculum where there are more school days, projects and homework during the weekends, and more activities for student improvement, don’t you think as a parent that they’re so caught up with education, and we have left them with nothing much for their freedom to grow up outside of school? By making sure that our kids learn academically, are we giving them to little space for individuality?
There is an uprising of anxiety and discomfort regarding the new system of rules and discipline. Many people think that this system is stopping the new generation from expressing who they are, and learning through experience right from wrong. If we expect them to become the world’s stronghold and tomorrow’s future, why aren’t we giving them the space to explore and grow?
Boundaries Must Be Set
Needless to say, parents are obliged to set boundaries for their kids, and it may not sound sensible, but yes, children do want these boundaries. They are okay with you telling them what to do and what not to do because they somehow like the feeling that there is control in the things they do. They like the sense of being safe in a controlled world where their parents are their fortress, and life is less complicated because of their protection. If there is no control, then it will be too much for these kids, and they were not born into this world unsafe. They have been cuddled and embraced and shielded from harm from the moment they came out.
Our children, in the beginning, have no idea what’s right from wrong – we teach them that. That is why we set some boundaries. But perhaps by letting them get away with some things, we are doing this as part of their training, when we are first polishing their values, defining their characters, and creating structures. According to Jennifer L. Hartstein, PsyD, “The more children learn about the consequences (positive or negative) of their actions, the more they understand the impact of their behaviors and the more secure they feel by having that understanding.”
Instilling discipline in children does not mean that parents are impeding them of their free will. “Calm, consistent discipline is as much an ingredient of having happy children as nurturing,” says family therapist Marilyn Wedge, PhD. Children should be entitled to their own opinion and should be allowed to express how they feel about things and issues in life, but of course, depending on their age. We can ask them for their choices on the simple things first, to help them practice the right kind of free will. For example, we can ask them what kind of drink they want, but we give them a choice of the drink – orange or apple juice. We can ask our teenager if she prefers to wear yellow or red shorts, but not let her choose the skimpy skirt when she’s going to the library. The freedom that we teach them is limited only because we want to teach them how to make choices.
Eventually, we can add consequences to these choices. If they make the incorrect choice, then there is a consequence. If they don’t finish their food, they don’t get to eat ice cream. They do have a choice, but the price to be paid will determine their behavior. Isn’t this what we all experience in the real world – responsibility, hard decisions, and consequences?
They Do Need More Freedom
According to Michael Thompson, PhD, author of Homesick and Happy ”While there are many things we can give our kids by spending time with them, the one thing we can’t hand them is independence.For kids to have full psychological ownership of their achievements, they have to be away from their parents. So, the task for us is to step back, open the door, and let a child go.”
It’s been more than three decades of blaming it on people’s rejection of the modern way of rearing children. It is because we give our children too much freedom that they become addicts, criminals, and early mothers. They’re rallying on implementing the conventional, authoritarian kind of parenting, specifically in the United States, perhaps because more and more people believe that we have become too liberal.
But the bottom line is that too much of everything is not at all right. And as much as we want to change the way we handle our children, we must let them grow up reasonably. Yes, we must pay more attention to our children – that’s the more traditional setting – but we must also add a touch of modern to that. We must always encourage them to think for themselves. No parent, school, or religion must force children to accept whatever it is that they do not want. We must raise them in a way that they know how to think, ask, and question.